Support Series — Esther Lee

Esther Lee

Meet Esther (she/her)

Visual Storyteller based in Seattle and Los Angeles. She's also a co-creator of Indwell, a mental health platform, and book that uses practical tools and education along with visual storytelling. She took some time to share with us her work and what Support means to her.

As a BIPOC creative, what does “support” mean to you?

To me, support means to serve with action, making sure to center the person you are supporting. It can look different for everyone, but I often find myself supporting others through verbal encouragement, providing constructive feedback, and making myself available to others to help out with what is needed in light of what I am able to offer. Sharing BIPOC work is always a practical way to support when it comes to the community. Whether it be promoting it in your sphere of influence, investing financially, or creating opportunities and spaces for our work to be seen, there are so many ways to support that amplify our creative work.

What is your cultural heritage and how has it influenced your work?

I’m Korean, born and raised in the US. It has been quite the journey of connecting with my Korean heritage, most of which has happened throughout my travels in Korea over the years. I am often captivated by the visual elements of the landscape, history, and people whom I have encountered. I find that I see and understand myself a little more with each encounter, sometimes even evolving with it. I guess, this also means that as I evolve, my work also evolves with me.

During my last trip, I was so inspired by Korea's traditional clothing, the Hanbok. Something within me was drawn to it. In hindsight, I think it felt like one tangible thing that captured the beauty of my heritage and people, which is why it often shows up in my work. In some ways, I think I love capturing the beauty in people's stories through my work and I love that the Hanbok helps me connect with the beauty in my heritage and history.

Why are telling BIPOC stories important to you?

Telling stories through my work helps me build bridges between people with different lived experiences and me. I find myself often experiencing more understanding and compassion through stories, often being reminded of our shared humanity. I think stories are also a powerful way of leaving a legacy for the next generation. I think about how all of my ancestors told stories to pass on to the next generation, often wisdoms and truths that I probably would've never arrived to in my lifetime. Stories are gifts that are meant to be shared within communities, and I often feel privileged to be able to share these sacred stories through my work.

Who has supported you and why was it meaningful?

My family, closest friends, and my co-creators of my Indwell book have supported me by helping me stay grounded, stay humble, and always work with a thankful heart. I’ve experienced depression throughout my creative journey as a visual artist because of the constant pressure to produce rather than create, the devaluation of creative work within our communities, and the struggle of navigating a competitive industry that isn't always as collaborative as I would have hoped. Without my community, I wouldn’t be where I am right now - a place of gratitude where I am learning to be content with who I am now and nurture who I am still evolving into. It's been a long process of accepting that my journey isn't supposed to be perfect and linear. Instead, I am beginning to embrace the ebbs and flows of the seasons.

Any words of advice or encouragement to BIPOC creatives just starting out?

Keep creating and nurture your craft with intentional time. These early years are some of the most important, as you learn to discover your creative voice and understand what matters most in your process of creating. Oh, and always invest into a community that is collaborative rather than competitive. Working with people who are different from you but just as passionate about creating work that is meaningful can keep you accountable for the long run. Know that there will be smooth and rough parts of your journey, but know that all of your experiences will help you nurture your voice and calling in life.


Esther Lee

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